Tips for Changing to a New Domain Name in Honor of Get a Different (Domain) Name Day!
Today is Get a Different Name Day and although today is actually supposed to be for people's names, we though we'd talk a little bit about how to go about getting a different domain name. Now, if you haven't done anything with your domain name(s) yet, getting a new one is easy...or at least easier than if you already have an established website. For those of you who are in this situation, you really just need to decided what you're looking for from your domain name and then find one that is available. Here are a few things to consider for anyone looking for a different domain name (or even their first):
1. Domain Extension: Finding a domain name on .COM can be difficult as .COM has over 110 million registrations. If you're set on a .COM, you will probably have to get creative. Keep in mind that not owning a .COM is not a death sentence for your website. .NET is always a great alternative, .ORG may actually be a better choice depending on what you plan to do with your website, a ccTLD such as .CO.UK may actually offer you better rankings in your target market, and other TLDs such as .ME can offer you the opportunity for a more unique domain name (plus it's considered a gccTLD).
2. Memorability & Spell-ability: Is your domain name going be easy for customers to remember? What about spell? When it comes to memorability, simple is often best (and also easiest to spell). Although a unique spelling, such as Flickr, can be memorable, it can also cause you to lose traffic. People often directly type in what they think is your domain name and as a result they can end up on the wrong website. If you do decide to go in this direction, be aware of this and consider registering a few of the possible spellings of your domain name and redirecting them to your actual domain name.
3. Length: You may have heard that shorter is better. This is not always true, but it is a good thing to think about. In my opinion it is more important to have a memorable domain name that is a little longer than a shorter one that reminds me of someone who mashed the keyboard to find their domain name (fdsafdsa.com, which is the left hand keys of an English keyboard twice, may be a premium domain, but in my opinion, it's not a good one).
4. Price: If you aren't finding the right available domain name in our search, you may want to consider what you would spend to acquire the right domain name. If you already have something in mind, check out the domain's Whois and consider getting in touch with the owner to see if they're willing to sell. You can also check out our marketplace, expired auctions, and backorders to see what domains are already for sale (and we're not the only ones who offer these types of domain markets).
For those of you who are getting a different domain name for your established website, you have other things to consider beyond just the domain name itself (though this is still very important). The biggest thing is making sure you don't waste all of the hard work you've done to establish your website. This is why before you do anything, you should make sure you are 100% happy with your new domain name and 100% want to make the change to it. Domainer and blogger Elliot Silver recently changed his domain name from ElliotsBlog.com to DomainInvesting.com. In an interview with Domain Name Wire, he stated that he "was only going to do it if [he] got the exact domain name [he] wanted." The reason? Elliot responded that "rebranding has risks, and [he] only wanted to do it if the risk would be offset by upgrading to a great brand name."
This is good advice because there are definitely risks to consider when you're changing domain names for an established website - and not paying attention to this risks can cost you rankings and traffic, which in turn will lose you both time and money. Here are a few things to keep in mind when changing your domain name:
1. Know Your Stats: It's going to be difficult for you to assess how successful your domain name change was if you don't know what's going on with your current domain name and website. Spend some time really getting to know your traffic - how much you're getting on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, where you're getting the most referrals, etc. You should also know your links. Good inbounding links are a key SEO ranking factor and definitely something that you want to watch when you change domains.
2. Use 301 Redirects: To help make sure you keep those good inbound links, you need make sure you use 301 redirects on all of your pages (not just your homepage). 301 redirects on each page will not only forward anyone who clicks on one of your old links to the appropriate page on your new domain, they also transfer the credit of those good inbound links you worked so hard to get.
3. Consider Hiring a Professional: First, let me just say that this post is barely scratching the surface of what you will need to do to successfully change domain names, i.e. you can't just 301 redirect all of your pages and hope for the best - you need a plan. If you're serious about making a change and want to do it yourself, you will need to do a lot of research before you start and come up with a solid plan (a good place to start is Google's Moving Your Site page). That being said you may want to consider hiring a professional company that knows what they're doing (you will want to do your research here as well). Again, changing domain names can and will cost you money. Hiring a company to help you may be costly, but it could be much costlier for you if you don't.
4. Market Your New Domain Name: Make sure people know about your domain name change! You made the change for a reason, so make sure you plan some good marketing campaigns to let everyone know about your new fabulous domain. You should also make a list of places your old domain name is listed, i.e. your social media websites, online and offline ads, directories, etc., and make sure you update accordingly.
Changing domain names can be a time consuming process, but if done right it can definitely be worth it, especially if your new domain name is a big upgrade. Just make sure you are 100% happy with your new domain and 100% committed to making the change.
Post by Robyn Norgan